Very Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Anthony Alaba Akinwale, former Vice Chancellor, Dominican University, Ibadan, Oyo State, has been honoured with the title and degree of Magister in Sacra Theologia (Master in Sacred Theology), by the Master of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP. Speaking on the award, Fr. Akinwale disclosed that the Master in Sacred Theology, a “master’s degree” in the most ancient sense was the highest academic rank in medieval universities, now preserved and awarded by the Order of Preachers, in accordance with the laws of the Church, by the permission of Pope Benedict XI in 1310. He said: “According to the Book of Constitutions of the Order, the degree is granted to Dominican friars whom the Order holds in great honour, who are considered to be among the most distinguished scholars in the Order, and who are recognized as having worked tirelessly for the understanding, protection and expansion of the Catholic faith and the academic discipline of sacred theology.” In keeping with the constitution of the Dominican Order, the degree is granted to Dominican friars whom the order holds in great honour, and those considered to be among the most distinguished scholars in the order, who have worked tirelessly for the understanding, protection and expansion of the Catholic faith and the academic discipline of sacred theology.
To qualify for such honour, it is expected that its recipient must have been teaching for at least 10 years, and must be nominated by the Chapter of the Dominican Province to which he belongs. He must have published books and articles judged to be of international scholarly repute by a group of experts chosen by the Master of the Order of Preachers and his Council. The Master of the Order makes the final decision having received the opinion of the experts.” Fr. Akinwale said that his being conferred with the honour, brings to three the number of African Dominicans to be conferred with the title and degree of Master in Sacred Theology. The first two African born priests to receive the award are Rev. Fr. Albert Nolan of South Africa, and Rev. Fr. Liboire Kagabo of Burundi. According to Fr. Akinwale,” Although it is rarely worn, the regalia of a Master in Sacred Theology is a four-finned black biretta, usually trimmed with scarlet, and a ring, which may be set with an amethyst.” The new Master in Theology is obliged by the Book of Constitutions of the Friars of the Order of Preachers to deliver a public lecture after receiving the title.
Fr. Akinwale studied Philosophy at the Seminary of Saints Peter and Paul, Bodija, Ibadan. He was ordained a Dominican priest of the Order of Preachers in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Theology from the Catholic University in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Master of Arts and a Licentiate in Theology from the Dominican University in Ottawa, Canada, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology from Boston College, USA, where he began his university teaching career in 1993. He became a member of the faculty at the Dominican Institute, Ibadan in 1996 and was appointed pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the Dominican University on August 21, 2017. Fr. Akinwale has contributed immensely to the Church and the academic field. He is a Professor of Systematic Theology and Thomistic Studies, and the pioneer Dean of Studies at the Dominican Institute, Ibadan (1996-2000). He has been a Fellow of the DePaul University Centre for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology in Chicago since 2014. Fr. Akinwale was a Consultant to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, the Nigerian Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.